TO MY SHAMELESS AND UNDESERVING SELF I SAID, YES I’LL HAVE FOUR OF THOSE PLEASE
This post, on top of the rare fact that it’s the third dessert-recipe within two weeks, is also going to take a rather unconventional introduction. Instead of my usual babbling on my, more often than not, unpleasant stories/inspirations behind a certain recipe, I’m going to gratefully credit this entire post to the unexpected blogging-perks that have been recently showering my life like a long-awaited rainfall.
First of all around 2 weeks ago, a mindfully packaged box from Italy oozing the kind of anticipation and excitement not even the strongest duct-tape can confine, quietly arrived at my doorstep. Carrying with it, among other gorgeous sample-ceramics, were 4 beautiful crochet-printed plates that marked the exciting collaboration between me, and the lovely Italian ceramic company – DishesOnly. In all honesty, calling this sort of thing a “collaboration” where I shamelessly ask for things without paying, sounds all too undeserving on my part because I feel like I’m taking advantage. But when I saw these unbelievably delicate and understatedly elegant side-plates called crochet, I simply couldn’t help my greedy self. The desire of having them among my now-seemed-comparatively-unattractive collection of plates, overrode any remaining ounce of self-consciousness. So to my shameless and undeserving self I said, yes I’ll have 4 of those please.
But after 2 weeks of unproductive staring and caressing (ok maybe, just maybe, a bit of whispering as well…), then comes the difficult part where I actually have to think of something worthy to put on top, and truth is, I’m having a bit of trouble with that. Because aside from the fact that I believe the only things you should serve these plates with, are simple jealousies lightly tossed with a dash of gloat, there’s something else that’s causing a bit of drought in my kitchen lately. Which brings us, to the second blogging-perk that’s resulting in this marathon of dessert-recipes, so silly I don’t even know how to put it literally except for saying…
For the past couple weeks, I have been dining out, non stop, for free.
Yes… sitting on the panel for this year’s best restaurants in Beijing for a lifestyle magazine, is again the shameless and undeserving… moi. Typically, this would’ve been a welcomed and gratefully held duty for someone who loves foods almost as much as she loves free meals. But if you take into account that she’s also supposed to be blogging about what she cooks/eats AT HOME, preferably if not more often than, twice a week, then things can get a little more complicated. I mean look, there’s the jerk-spiced pulled pork that I was going to make lovely tacos with, but instead, I spent the night stuffing my face with a boat-load of fancy sashimi. Then I had the most exciting idea of turning in a savoury version of these peanut butter-lava sticky rice balls, pork-filled in Tteokbokki-style with spicy Korean chili sauce, but instead, I got tumbled in an avalanche of free-flowing tapas and paella. Life… life is tough.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, with my looted plates and never-ending free meals, I can only bring you yet-another dessert-recipe where I stuffed an obscene amount of pineapple custard and raspberry jam into mini, squishy and soft Hokkaido milk buns with crunchy honey shaved almonds on top. The buns were made partially cooked roux as well as heavy cream, which gave them the rich moistness and pillowy softness that separates them from ordinary butter rolls. They may be the only thing standing between you and eating this thick, glossy custard perfumed with the subtle fragrance from pureed pineapple straight out of a jar. And if you used the buns warm out of the oven, and stuffed it with the custard cold right out of the fridge with just a tiny smear of raspberry jam for tartness… Squishy and custardy. Warm and refreshingly chilled. Sweet with a shot of tartness.
Well, just saying, because you look like you could use some perks as well while I’m busy finishing mine.
Makes: 8 buns
This Hokkaido milk bun-recipe is a streamlined, halved version from the dreamy Hokkaido milk toast, which took 1 extra step of fermentation but arguably resulted in a fluffier and more delicate texture (even though that recipe didn’t use the roux/tangzhong method). So if you want to go the extra miles, you can also just half the original recipe to make these buns. Then in terms of pineapple, I would use canned instead of fresh, which eliminates any issues of inconsistency in sweetness/tartness. But of course, if you have a beautifully ripened and sweet pineapple laying around, by all means go for it.
- 1 cup (250 grams) whole milk
- 1 heaping cup (170 grams) diced canned pineapple
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup (80 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp (43 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp (20 grams) bread flour
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) whole milk
- 2 1/2 cup (320 grams) bread flour
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp (6 grams) instant dry yeast
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp (43 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (45 grams) shaved almonds
- 1 tbsp (22 grams) honey
- Raspberry jams to serve, optional
- TO MAKE THE PINEAPPLE CUSTARD: Can be made up to 4 days before. Blend whole milk and diced pineapple in a blender until very smooth. Set aside. Combine egg yolks, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in a large sauce pot (so it can go directly to the stove later), then whisk with a hand-held mixer until thick and velvety. You should see a trail of thick ribbons during mixing. Add all-purpose flour and whisk on low speed until combined, then add the pineapple-milk and whisk until even.
- Set the pot over medium heat, whisking constantly (with a hand whisk), until the mixture has thickened and starts to bubble slowly. Every time you feel like the mixture's heating up too quickly and getting lumpy, REMOVE FROM THE HEAT AND WHISK VIGOROUSLY. Return to the heat only when the mixture feels smooth again. Let cook for another 3min, whisking constantly, until the custard resembles a thick paste. Whisk in the unsalted butter in 2 portions. Let cool for 30 min, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before using.
- TO MAKE THE HOKKAIDO MILK BUNS: To make the roux, whisk 2 tbsp bread flour and 1/3 cup of whole milk in a small sauce pot until even, then cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of mayonnaise. Let cool for 10 min.
- Add the roux, bread flour, heavy cream, granulated sugar, instant dry yeast, large egg whites and salt in a stand-mixer bowl with dough-hooks. Knead on low speed until a shaggy dough forms, then increase to high speed and knead for 5~7 min until extremely smooth and elastic. Add the unsalted butter, 1 tbsp at a time, and knead until fully incorporated. Then knead again on high speed for 10~15 min until you're able to slowly stretch the dough into a thin film without it breaking (you should be able to see your hands behind the film). Wrap the bowl with plastic, then let proof at a warm spot for 3 hours (or 24 hours in the fridge) until the dough has fully doubled. If you chose to proof in the fridge, and it hasn't fully doubled after 24 hours, let proof at room-temperature for another 2 hours.
- Transfer the dough to the counter and punch the air out. Roll into 1" (2 cm) thickness and scroll it into a log, then divide into 8 equal portions. Shape each portions into smooth balls, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet with at least 3" (8 cm) of space in between. Cover with plastic-wrap and let proof again for 2 hours (longer if the dough comes from the fridge) until almost doubled again. Meanwhile, stir shaved almonds and honey together until even. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven on 375F/190C. Brush each buns with egg-wash, then gently scattered the honey-almonds on top. Bake for 15 min until golden browned, then let cool on a cooling-rack. Right before serving, cut a deep pocket inside the buns without cutting it through, then stuff generously with pineapple custard and raspberry jam. Dust with powdered sugar.